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What Will You Learn From Today’s Episode

  • The ability to connect with people is an absolute must for a hostage negotiator.
  • We have to listen and then understand other people first; only then can we influence them.
  • Humility is important when it comes to resolving crisis negotiations. It’s important to leave your ego at the door during hostage or crisis negotiations.
  • You have to be interested in what other people say and put their interests first before yours. Only then can you become a true hostage negotiator.
  • When you understand what makes people tick, you make them feel important, heard, special, and understood.

Executive Summary:

Hey everyone! Thanks for joining us on a new episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Joining us today is Kirk Kinnell, a former police negotiator. Kirk has been deployed as the lead negotiator on several occasions where UK nationals were kidnapped abroad. He has also instructed on hostage and cross-crisis negotiations since 2001 within the UK.

Additionally, Kirk has spoken at various conferences worldwide and has instructed at the Hostage Crisis Negotiator course with the FBI in Quantico. In 2017, Kirk was the lead advisor to US law enforcement on conflict resolution decision-making and de-escalation of force, facilitating training in Boston, Washington, New York, Savannah, and New Orleans.

Presently, Kirk stays busy sharing his experience and delivering training for humanitarian organizations and the private sector on decision-making, negotiation, and listening skills worldwide.

With all that said, let’s jump into the conversation with Kirk.

The Ability To Connect With People Is An Absolute Must For A Hostage Negotiator

Kirk Kinnell’s journey to being a crisis negotiator was pretty straightforward.

He recalls being in the arms response team at a siege during his days as a police officer when he encountered a man with a gun who threatened to blow up the building. The man had already turned the gas and was about to shoot the police officers.

Although Kirk, an armed officer, tried his best to de-escalate the situation, he failed miserably. But fortunately for him, the hostage negotiation team arrived shortly after that and took over the situation. Instead of approaching the situation conventionally, the negotiation team personalized him in less than no time.

They started speaking to the gunman about his history, family, music taste, likes and dislikes to build a connection and influence him. As you might have guessed, the gunman put down his weapon shortly thereafter, dropped to his knees, and surrendered to the officers.

Kirk was deeply influenced by this incident and realized that the hostage negotiation officers possessed something he didn’t. Their ability to connect with someone and influence them to such a high degree in such a short time left him speechless. And it was at that moment he thought that he could pursue crisis negotiations professionally.

So, he stayed as a firearms officer and eventually became a hostage negotiator after a while

Active Listening Skills Have Little To Do With Listening And More To Do With Conversation Skills

Moving on, Kirk sheds light on the key components he and his team use to approach crisis negotiations. He mentions incorporating the behavioral change staircase model in the negotiations, where they move from introduction to empathy, rapport, influencing change, and changing behavior.

And then they underpin those with active listening skills, which he believes are by far the most important skills when it comes to crisis negotiations. Kirk draws his inspiration from Richard Mullender, a Scottish author and hostage negotiator whose mission is teaching the corporate world to listen like hostage negotiators to help them close better deals.

He strongly believes that Richard helped him bring a change in his thinking process and helped him simplify things constantly. Richard and Kirk worked for many years, and they always strived to redefine what they understood from active listening skills.

They realized that the elements of active listening, such as minimal encouragers and open-ended questions, had little to do with listening skills and more to do with conversation skills. We have to listen and then understand other people first; only then can we influence them.

Humility Is Important When It Comes To Resolving Crisis Negotiations

According to Kirk, it’s absolutely important to leave your ego at the door during hostage or crisis negotiation. You have to be interested in what other people are saying and put their interests first before your own. That’s why he feels that we need more people who are genuinely interested in other people in the negotiation world.

To be an effective negotiator, one needs to connect with people. A crisis negotiator, while negotiating, should be able to create a transformational moment where the other party should feel comfortable interacting with them. And they should be able to recreate these moments every time they engage in a negotiation.

Active Listening And Negotiation Skills Can Be Taught

Next, Nolan asks Kirk if active listening is something that can be taught. In response, Kirk cites the Seven Layers of Listening, which is what he teaches his students at Negotiated Resolutions. Hostage negotiations demand negotiators to listen well, so a negotiator should always be keen on learning how to enhance their listening skills.

Mr. Kinnell also strongly believes that negotiation is a way of life and that the only way to improve your skills is by constantly engaging in negotiations and observing others negotiate. So, yes, people can learn active listening and other negotiation skills and improve them going forward.

One just needs to be humble, gain more experience, and not shy away from having difficult conversations in their personal or professional sphere.

A True Crisis Negotiator Should Be Able To Find Out What Makes People Tick

After that, Kirk shares some insightful information regarding the seven layers of listening: facts, emotions, values, beliefs, motivators, currency, and worth. Although the seven layers of listening are a perfect tool for people who want to be negotiators, Kirk believes it’s all about finding out what makes people tick.

When you understand what makes people tick, you make them feel important and heard, special and understood, which results in better negotiation outcomes.

Leave Your Ego At The Door While Negotiating

Kirk shares some interesting insights when asked how to practice humility and listen to disagreeable and unlikeable people. According to him, likability is an important factor in hostage negotiations, so negotiators should ensure they leave their egos at the door. The minute a negotiator starts seeing their ego rise, they should instantly kill it because it is the main ingredient of ambition, which can lead to undesirable negotiation outcomes.

The moment you think you’re special or better, you tend to lose sight of the other people, which is unacceptable for a negotiator. Now, as far as dealing with horrible or unlikable people is concerned, a negotiator must keep in mind that they don’t need the people to be likable; the people just need to like them.

So, Kirk strongly recommends negotiators become likable so that they can present a better version of themselves in front of people. Negotiators don’t need to agree with people or what they’ve done; they just need to see things from people’s perspectives to help build a connection and negotiate effectively.

Kirk, Aram, and Nolan discuss a lot more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx Podcast. Write to us at team@negotiatex.com and share your thoughts on this very informational podcast episode.


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. My name is Nolan Martin, I'm the co-founder and co-host, and with me today is my good friend Aram Donigian and our guest, Aram. Do you wanna introduce Kirk Kinnell for us?

Aram Donigian : I will, Nolan, I hope you're doing well today, by the way.

NM : I am. I figured we'd start cutting that stuff out. No one really cares. We'll just start getting straight into it. Let's, let's be real. We know….

Kirk Kinnell : I'm going to intervene because you're both looking pretty cool today. So I think the listeners have to understand that you're, you're very cool under pressure and you look calm, so it puts me at ease and helps me.

NM : Yeah, they're we go.

AD : Well, I'm sure Kirk, as we get in, we'll get into your bio, we get into the conversation. Maybe that's part of your advice from lessons you've learned throughout your career. So we'll see. And, hopefully Nolan and I continue to do that well, but you can give us any coaching points along the way.

KK : I'm sure I don't need to.

AD : So, folks already introduced a little bit, but Kirk Kinnell is our guest today. He's a professional negotiator and former highly experienced police negotiator. He's been deployed as the lead negotiator on a number of occasions where UK nationals were kidnapped abroad. He has instructed on hostage and cross crisis negotiation since 2001 within the UK and elsewhere.    

As the former head of hostage negotiation in armed policing in Scotland, Kirk has a unique insight into both disciplines which complement each other in the resolution of conflict he has spoken of at various conferences worldwide and has instructed internationally at the Hostage Crisis negotiator course with the FBI in Quantico.

He represented the Foreign and Commonwealth office of the UK Government Counter Terrorist Bilateral Assistance Program by training the Philippine National Police. In 2017, Kirk was the lead advisor to US law enforcement on conflict resolution decision making and de-escalation of force facilitating training in Boston, Washington, New York, Savannah, and New Orleans.

He currently shares his experience and delivers training for both the humanitarian organizations and private sector on decision making, negotiation, listening and influence skills throughout the UK and elsewhere in places such as New Zealand, Brazil, Singapore, China, Oman, Dubai, Lebanon, Republic of Ireland, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Serbia, France, Belgium, and Italy.

So Kirk, I hope I didn't miss any countries there, that's quite a list.

KK : That was excellent. Well done, you guys are well-traveled.

AD : So, he's a professional negotiator. He's been involved in numerous financial and contract disputes, finding resolutions for his clients, working on multi million pound deals. And he has recently saved clients seven, eight, and nine figure amounts. So Kirk, thanks so much for being with us today. 

KK : Yeah, thank you. My pleasure.

NM : All right, Kirk. So jumping into this thing, kind of the leading questions we'd like to ask is, how on earth did you get to this point in your life and, you know, what kind of key developments did you have along the way?

Kirk’s Professional Journey [4:20]

AD : Well, yeah, I suppose for me it's my own personal view of my story, of course it is pretty straightforward. I recognize it's not everyone's journey, but as a young police officer, I had, you know, three or four years police service at the time, and I was in the arm response teams, you know, the SWAT teams in Glasgow. And I was at a siege, and the siege I was at was a man with a gun and he was threatening to blow up the building.

He had turned on the gas and was going to ignite the gas, and he was going to shoot police officers, and I was engaging him as an armed officer trying to deescalate the situation, reduce detention. And very shortly thereafter, the hostage negotiation team arrived. And even though I had delivered all of my training, I was reaching out to the guy.

KK : I wasn't making much progress. But when the hostage negotiation team arrived, they just approached the thing slightly differently. They personalized him within moments. They were speaking to him about his history, his family, his likes and dislikes, his music taste. And all of a sudden saw a connection between him and the hostage negotiator John, right?

And John started to talk to him about his music collection. And then within moments, he put down a weapon, dropped his knees, and just surrendered. And I realized that John possessed something, that the training hadn't equipped me for that ability to connect with someone and influence them to such a high degree in such a short space of time. And at that moment in time, I thought, I want to be one of them, right? I want to have those skills, those negotiation skills. So I stayed as a firearms officer and, but eventually became a hostage negotiator and combined both of those skills over the years so that I could be enhanced in my role as an armed officer at a siege, but also as a hostage negotiator.

KK : And I retained both disciplines. I would sometimes go to a job as a SWAT team guy. I sometimes would go to the job as a hostage negotiator. And for me, that journey was about almost cross pollination of the portfolios, right? It was about the firearms team learning from hostage negotiators about dialogue and the hostage negotiators learning from the firearms team about discipline and role and safety.

And so for me, that journey just seemed, well, it just seemed natural for me to want to follow. So I was lucky enough to follow that journey. I was lucky enough to stay as a hostage negotiator, eventually moving through the ranks of the law enforcement within Police Scotland, eventually retiring as the head of both the hostage negotiation team and the arm policing team. And I also worked in the organized crime and counter Terror unit in Scotland. So I used all of those skills at the highest level.

KK : And then of course, in my last few years as head of that team, I sat on the International Negotiator Working Group where all of the countries around the world shared their experiences, shared their training, so that not only we might, we learn from each other, but that we might share knowledge so that we can help each other. But when we are deployed, when people, multinationals are kidnapped abroads, we can all adopt a policy that helps each other rather than acting singularly. So that was really great for me. And of course, recognizing you guys have got a bit of an accent <laugh>.

I spent a few years back and forward as the lead advisor to US law enforcement, based on that conflict resolution, because I was approached by the Police Executive Research Forum led by Chuck Wexler in the USA and in Washington, who liked what we were doing in Scotland.

KK : He liked that we could resolve conflict. Of course, there was massive political pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement for law enforcement to just deal with conflict slightly differently. And they were impressed with the way that we dealt with conflict in Scotland. And that law enforcement officers, you know, the number of people that we killed in engagement or injured in engagements were almost zero every year, right? And he wanted to learn how we looked at conflict to deescalate it, because my team in Scotland, well, we were armed and we dealt with guys with guns every day. Not the same scale as in the US but still the same situation and context and how we managed to resolve that. So yeah, for me, being back across to the USA many times to assist with that and, and review the conflict resolution training and design some programs that get rolled across the USA for me, really fortunate for me to be involved in that.

KK : And yeah, retiring five years ago, I had a ball. I absolutely could not let those skills go to waste, right? I was having too much fun. And so I set up my own business in terms of conflict resolution negotiation, transferring the skills that I had learned for 30 years into the corporate world. And I know that you mentioned earlier that it's something that your audience would be interested in is that, are those skills transferrable?

So, that's exactly what I do with my company, Negotiated Resolutions is that we engage the corporate world. Of course, I'm still involved with the humanitarian world, where the types of negotiation are similar to my law enforcement background. But in terms of my corporate engagements, again, it's the same, it's the same training concept I'll bring to that area.

AD : Nice. Kirk, there's so much to dig into with what you just shared. So I'd love to go back in your story just for a moment. As you made that transition and went through the initial training to join the hostage negotiation team, what did that training look like? How long did that last? Was it, was it difficult for you to make that shift with what you had seen in the negotiator, John, when you first, I mean, did you find any challenges along the way in your own, your own development as a hostage negotiator?

Challenges Kirk Faced To Become A Hostage Negotiator [10:44] 

KK : Oh, absolutely. Almost a challenge every week. Absolutely. So, you know, the hostage negotiator course, that's, I went on a way back in 1997 or so when I first became a hostage negotiator. And I think we prided ourselves in Scotland of having one of the best training courses in the world, right? Because my predecessors had done the same as me when I took over that role. We go around the world and we learn, and you know, we steal good ideas from other people, right? 

Every good idea has been stolen from a thief, right? So we <laugh> we shared that experience around the world. And what we tried to do was, of course, I was across at the FBI, I was doing at the Metropolitan Police in London. I was around the world working in Philippines. And basically we were all working from the same concept, but what we did was we tried to do that little bit extra.

KK : So our training course was a two week course. It started at 7:00 AM and finished at 2:00 AM the same next day. And we ran that for two weeks nonstop. And what that did was classroom inputs, live exercises at night. So that we transferred those skills and that knowledge into habit over the two week course. And it was really intense. We induced as close to real pressure as we could with mental exhaustion.

So at the end of that course, we found out who would be good hostage negotiators and who would struggle, right? And so that challenge, which was something which was always instilled in me, was that by the end of the two weeks, the pass rate for this course is pretty tough, right? It's about 50%, because the criteria at the end, even though you may not have failed any examinations or exercises, the baseline criteria for the director of that course is will this person help or hinder a situation?

KK : Because human life's at stake. And so the criteria was if there's any doubt, there's no doubt. So going into your final day assessment, if there was a slightest doubt that you would not be excellent and that siege, that scene, then you would be eliminated from the course and not pass. Because for me, that meant that the standup had to be the highest, because that's the only way we could guarantee the success rate of 99.9% that we've had for the last 30, 40, 50 years. Because it's not acceptable for me to go to my chief council and say, five jobs today, boss and two of them were fatal, you know, or three people lost their lives because our skill level wasn't high enough, we weren't prepared enough.

So we took it so seriously that naturally that success rate was the only thing that really mattered saving human life. Absolutely.

NM : Hey, thanks for sharing that, Kirk. It's incredible that y'all achieved such a high success rate. And so hopefully we can dig into that more here and figure out more why you're so successful. So what are the key components of the negotiation process that you used in, in your organizations and, and the overall approach to crisis negotiations when you encountered them?

Key Components Kirk Uses To Approach Crisis Negotiations [13:59]

KK : Yeah. Well, listen, if I think back to, back then when, you know, the world of hostage negotiation and to be consistent law enforcement, were all really doing the same thing, right? We were doing the behavioral change staircase model where we moved from introduction to empathy, rapport, influencing change, and changing behavior. A nd we underpinned those with the active listening skills that we are commonly known as, you know, as the most important skills back then.

But I think one of the things that we did was, you know, and we followed examples, and I'll quote the SAS, right? So for the SAS, the highest performers, I would probably say, you know, on the planet, I'm sure you guys will have some competition from the US and everyone's probably proud of their elite forces, but the SAS have a model, right? And it's like the pursuit of excellence is constant.

KK : So every day we were always trying to improve. We never stopped to think that we've got it right. You know, the most dangerous time in negotiation is just when you think you're running, right? So for us it was always about, here we are, how do we move forward tomorrow? And even early, way back in 2006, 2007, when I went across to the Philippines with a couple of guys from London, and I formed a relationship with a guy there, Richard Mullinder.

And I'm sure you've heard of Richard. Richard's probably been my mentor in terms of not only within law enforcement, but the transition to the corporate world. But Richard was always trying to simplify what we taught people and explain it slightly differently. And the best example I can give him was we were sharing a story about why is it we could teach someone a lesson notes, and by the evening, they had forgotten some of the things that they had learned.

KK : And Richard made me think slightly differently. He said, I do the same thing, but let's ask the question, what did I do wrong in my instruction? Right? Because it's there, we get it wrong. So we have to rethink how we teach people. Don't blame them for not getting something that you've explained from your perspective. Until we understand their perspective, we always have to constantly simplify things.

So, Richard and I were in the same wavelength. We worked together for many years, and we constantly worked to redefine what we understood from active listening skills. And if you think about the active listening skills, which are commonly held, things like minimal encouragers, you know, open-ended questions, and we actually sat down and realized not very many of those skills have got much to do with listening. They're actually conversation skills. And when we focused on the things which served as the best listening skills we learned that being able to listen and then understand other people first, then we could influence them.

KK : And that's underpinned by the world of hostage negotiation who always says, leave your ego at the door. And always remember that humility is the most important thing. And the aspect of humility is about being interested in other people paying attention to their interests before your own.

So, the negotiation world started to evolve where we were recruiting people who are genuinely interested in other people. And so we developed those skills to say, here's how you can enhance those skills. Here's how you can connect with people. And you know, when you create that moment, that transformational moment when someone says to you, he just gets me, she just gets me, right? They just get me when you recreate that moment. So what we did was we reversed engineered that moment so that we could always reach that same time every time we deployed negotiators. So we thought about listening differently. 

KK : Richard, for the most part, come up with the layers of listening. But jointly we, we come up with the seven layers of listening, which is what people should listen for, right? Because as we always say, knowledge is not power, right? It's the application of knowledge which gives you power. It's what you do with that information. So we started to focus on gleaning information from people that would help their situation. And eventually, if we could offer a logical conclusion or solution which would benefit everyone, then that's great. But the most important part was when they felt heard and understood. That's when we recognized there was a change in the wind in siege, suicide intervention, you know, routine deployments that we had. We noticed a change in the momentum of people when we'd reached that moment. So that became, for me, the key moment that we tried to focus on to reverse engineer up to that point and beyond.

NM : So I got a question, I got a follow up question of that, if you don't mind, Aram. So Kirk is active listening, a skill that can be taught, because you'd said how you basically screened out to find people that were genuinely interested in having these conversations and digging into understanding how people are thinking and, and what they're saying.

But is it something that could be taught?

Kirk Answers If Active Listening Can Be Taught [19:08]

KK : Well, absolutely. You know, I think active listening skills and to take it to a deeper level, the seven layers of listening, it's something that we teach people from the world of Negotiated Resolutions.

Now, in the world of hostage negotiation, we teach people to be good at those skills. The world of hostage negotiation requires you to be at a minimum excellent level, right? So in the corporate world, of course, we can enhance your skills, we can improve you, we can train you to be better.

But have to say there is no substitute for enhanced training, enhanced exercises, negotiation is a user or lose it skill. Some people say they did an online course five years ago and they're qualified negotiator. For me, negotiation is just a way of life, and you only improve by constantly seeing it that way. I've heard some negotiators talking about this, and I've probably even said it myself a few times…

Negotiation, yea, it's pretty tough, but I really lose very much at home, right? That's where I'm, that's where I'm a failed negotiator. But in actual fact, if you know that you're in a negotiation and you make the other person feel heard and understood, and you understand that, then even at home you can influence and benefit your relationships with your partners, with your children, with your friends.

So yeah, absolutely. Can people learn those skills? We can always improve. And even me that's been doing it for 30 years, and I've listened to some of your other guests who are quite frankly, outstanding negotiators with a great history and a great insight, but I think they all would probably exceed that. We are constantly in need of improvement. We constantly learn from each other, we read more things, we gain more experience. And the minute you think you've, you're an expert, really, it's, you're, you're gonna die in this world, 

AD : <laugh>. Isn't that true? You've mentioned seven layers of listening a couple times now. Can you just tell our listeners what those seven layers are?

Kirk Explains The Seven Layers Of Listening [21:09]

KK : Yeah. So in dialogue generally as well as the active listening skills, we focused mostly on the things to listen for. And each layer has got its own depth, if you like. They are facts, emotions, values, beliefs, motivators, currency, and worth, right? We call them the magnificent seven. So it's easy to remember, right? But it's really to find out what drives people, what makes them tick.

And when you really understand what makes people tick, and they hear that out loud and they acknowledge that you've been listening to them, you make them feel important, special, heard, and understood, they will normally acknowledge your work by saying, yeah, you're right. That's right. Something like that. And the minute someone says to you, that's right, of course you're on the same page as them. Even though you may have a challenge, which will be slightly different from them, from what you have to face, at least you're facing something together.

AD : Now, you mentioned the importance of humility. You said it's the most important thing that a crisis negotiator can kind of bring to the table. I have to imagine there are, and there have been many situations and challenging situations for those beneath you when practicing humility and listening with some very disagreeable and unlikeable people has occurred.

How have you been able to help either navigate the gap yourself or helped others when you're having to apply these skills with people that they're just not very likable, they're doing some things that are really bad?

Kirk Discusses How He Likes To Negotiate With Unlikable People [22:44]

KK : Yeah. So listen, likability is an important factor. So, I'll start off in the training environment. So when you come into the world of hostage negotiation, we almost check each other, right? Because the minute you see ego starting to rise, we kill that there and then, right? We attack ego because whilst I recognize that ego's a good thing because it's an element and it the main ingredient for ambition. So it's necessary. But when it gets too big, we attack that and remind people, check your ego in at the door.

The minute you think you're special, you're better, you're important. You're losing sight of other people, right? Which is the most important thing for a negotiator. And even in a corporate world, if you are thinking about yourself and not about your negotiating partner, then you're losing ground. So we understand that. Now, when it comes to dealing with horrible people, you know, in the world of hostage negotiation, a percentage of the people that I would engage would be psychopath, sociopaths, narcissists, you know, almost some of them evil people. 

KK : And they're not likable, right? They are of course, people like that are not likable, but I don't need them to be likable. I just need them to like me, right? So I need to make sure that I become likable, so I have to present a version of me. So even though I don't agree with people or what they've done, I try to see things from their perspective. And when they at least recognize that I'm trying to see things from their perspective, that allows connection. Sometimes even the worst of people recognize that you can't be the same of them. They actually don't want to, people want to feel special, right? Feel unique. So we try not to undermine that uniqueness. That's why we never use the phrase, I understand, I understand you, right? Because people will automatically reply, how can you possibly understand me? How can you understand my life, my situation? 

KK : They feel like it's devaluing their situation. So we don't tell them we understand. We just basically say, it seems to me that this has happened. It's got you feeling that way, and you've perhaps run out of options to solve it by traditional means. Of course, we wouldn't use such wordy language in a real situation. But you know, that concept of empathy, it's about recognizing and articulating the emotion that they have and the context of that emotion. And when you do that combination, people feel heard and understood, and you know, I'm going to give you a quote from a James Bond movie, you know, where <laugh> talking to Felix Lighter and James Bond is upset with Felix. And Felix said, you know, if we didn't talk to bad people, we probably wouldn't be talking to anyone, right? <laugh>.

NM : Yeah. 

KK : So, so we have to, we have to speak to people who are not the same as us. Yeah. We have to bridge that gap or we would never make progress.

AD : So true. So true. And I can appreciate what you are saying, which is our tendency to say, I understand. And that literally does land flat. I, and probably not just in your context, but in so many contexts that's kind of lands flat to show understanding through. It sounds like this is the situation you're in and this is how it's impacting you, the emotional piece, so, so much more effective. 

KK : Yeah. And even in the most tense life or death situations, it's remarkable how people will almost thank you for taking the time to recognize and appreciate the situation they're in. Even paranoid schizophrenic sociopaths, psychopathic people, most human beings, right? We still have to connect with them.

NM : So I imagine crisis negotiations come outta come outta nowhere, by definition. I believe that there's a part of what a crisis is. So how can we prepare for a negotiation if you're limited in time, limited resources? How did you train your subordinates to prepare for these negotiations when they can happen at any time?

How Kirk Trains His Subordinates To Prepare For Crisis Negotiations [26:54] 

KK : Well, a couple of things. So, if I go back to the original training course, what we did was we merged the operational world with the training world. So we would have an operational job, and when the negotiators were deployed, they would submit a debrief forum where they would tell the story of the situation that happened to them and how it was successfully resolved or otherwise. And if we had a good one, we would feed that back into the training scenario so that people actually trained for real life jobs that had happened in recent weeks and months. So we kept that training live, right? We kept it. So most people that were deployed on their first few jobs would almost always come back and say, it was just like the training course, that job I was on the edge of a bridge or a siege. It was just like the training course on day three or day four.

KK : And so by making that realistic is one way that we can prepare them for that eventuality, but also we deploy them as part of a team where they feel supported. Because you know, negotiators, it's not a sole job, right? My success for the most part, over 30 years, has been as a consequence of being part of a great team. I've met some great people and I've worked along with and supported some fabulous people.

And so when you're able to lean on people, then perhaps you don't feel all of that pressure yourself. So that's one of the things that we do to prepare them for that. The second thing is we ask them to, you know, as you get older, we tend to react and we ask them to think of a time perhaps when they were younger. And I draw a comparison where if I was playing my son on the XBOX, and I say, who would win?

KK : Me or him? Right? And I see you're smiling, you know, the answer is <laugh> him every time, right? And what's the difference? Well, manual dexterity, I can go up left down, right, left up, down, shoot at the same speed as him. But what happens with him, the difference between him and I is that he's played it so often. He's anticipating every move. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I react when I see it. But that split second is what gives him some tactical advantage. And so we learned that in the world of negotiation, where we ask them to anticipate what's ahead. So that training, by recycling operational roles into the training environment, we are anticipating what might come the most common type of incident. We train and prepare them for that, but we also prepare for whatever fantasy will bring along. We crash test them under pressure. We give them every type of scenario. 

KK : And even it got to the point where when we were deploying people to a job, and I'll go back in the day, right? Back in the day we made up audio CDs to play in their car. And it was, if you're going to this type of incident, think about that. If you're going to that type of instant, think about that. And we would just get them mentally prepared by the time they get there so they don't turn up cold and just go straight into a job and be ill prepared. So preparation is something which is the heart of negotiation. Of course, if I go unprepared, I would like to think we all have the imagination and the ability to adapt under extreme pressure situations, but if I had the choice of thinking on my feet or planning in advance, I'd plan in advance every time.

NM : Yeah. I think that that's just so key and directly relatable to my experience in the military and everything like that. But then also just whenever we work with clients and, and re just trying to get them to focus on preparation. It's not just, you know, doing a simple prep tool. It's the rehearsals that you talked about, that really gets you thinking on your feet and really exploring other possibilities of where this negotiation can go. I think that's so key in everything you talked about.

Hey, everyone, Nolan here, I have to jump in and end the conversation. If you haven't already, please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast and we'll see you in the next episode.

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